LAHORE: The police has declared that enforcement alone is insufficient to curb kite flying, pointed out various legal and operational bottlenecks and prepared a set of recommendations for the approval of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to eradicate this dangerous activity.

It has also sought the help of federal government institutions to disrupt the supply chain of kites, sharp twines and the manufacturing of related banned items to eliminate this crime permanently.

Police officials proposed that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Ministry of Commerce and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) must be incorporated into the counter-kite flying strategy where the supply side must be focused for a wide range of administrative, judicial and legal measures.

Prepared by the police’s operations wing, the report -- a copy of which is available with Dawn -- was forwarded to the Punjab chief secretary to process and send to the chief minister for approval.

The police has proposed amendments to the Punjab Prohibition of Kite Flying Ordinance 2001(as amended in 2009) to categorise the offences and enhance punishments to create deterrence for saving the lives of people.

Recommendations sent to CM include enhanced punishments for making, selling, flying kites

In Punjab, Lahore tops with the most news reports about kite flying. “Hence, the study on the kite flying activity was restricted to Lahore, though the results are applicable to all urban centres of Punjab,” reads the police analysis.

The police authorities were of the view that enforcement alone was insufficient to obliterate this menace, saying the time had come for a wider approach to combat kite flying. “It is submitted that even with all sustained police action against manufacturing, selling and flying of kites, the deadly spell of kite-flying activity is surfacing after intervals,” they stressed.

The report also mentioned major causes of unabated kite flying. It stated that only special judicial magistrates were authorised to hear the bail pleas. In the case of Lahore, investigation officers from all 84 police stations of the city had to bring the suspects to city centre to produce them before the magistrate’s court for bail. Since the court was overwhelmed with such cases, bail was granted in almost all of them even thought the offence was non-bailable.

Another reason was low conviction rate. An analysis of prosecutorial and trial stage of cases showed that very few suspects were sent to judicial lock-ups. Conviction was rare and that too with paltry fines of a few hundred rupees. Jail sentence was not announced even in a single case. Even the manufacturers and sellers were not sentenced.

Furthermore, the kite flying ordinance did not provide diversified penal provisions for manufacturers, sellers or kite flyers. Although, the gravity of the offence varies, all three aspects of the offence have been grouped together in terms of punishment.

Multiple Facebook pages were also operating with impunity from across Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa selling items related to kite flying. The FIA’s Cyber Wing has not taken any action so far.

To curb manufacturing, the police proposed minimum imprisonment of one year and maximum five years or minimum fine of Rs500,000 and maximum Rs2 million or both. For selling kites, it proposed a minimum imprisonment of one year and maximum five years, or a minimum fine of Rs200,000 and maximum Rs500,000 or both.

For flying, it proposed minimum prison sentence of three months and maximum a year or a minimum fine of Rs50,000 and maximum Rs100,000 or both.

“The cyber wing of the FIA may be mandated and activated against the online Facebook pages/websites involved in promoting this organised crime and online selling of kites and other related items,” the police suggested.

The FBR and the Commerce Ministry could be approached to ban the import of nylon chords and other metal wires being used to manufacture twines, it added.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2021

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